Early Win-Loss Predictions for Utah Jazz Next Season

The Utah Jazz are looking to finally turn the corner and have a better win-loss record during the 2014-15 season after looking both awful and boring for the majority of last year.

Being one of the NBA‘s worst teams was a result of having a young squad with a lack of a solid foundation. It felt like players were unsure of where they stood on the roster, and the franchise in general had an overall lack of direction.

The Jazz were going to be bad, but what were they going to do in order to fix the problems and become a better team?

Well, the good news is that they look to be finding some of those answers.

It appears as though the organization has a direction and is working hard on reaching its ceiling. Utah has some of the best fans in the league. They are always filling up the arena regardless of how well the team does, and it’s about time they get rewarded for it.

Next year will certainly be a better season, but how much better? Here’s a look at Utah’s win-loss prediction heading into the upcoming year.

 

Backcourt

If Utah is going to have any success during the 2014-15 season, then the Jazz are going to need exceptional play out of their guards.

The three key players will be Trey Burke, Alec Burks and Dante Exum.

Burke and Exum will need to be able to do a number of different tasks—one of which will be to play alongside each other in an efficient matter. Each needs to be able to start the offense and run at shooting guard in whatever order presents itself.

The next task is for one to be able to fill in for the other at any given time. If Exum starts the season off the bench, then he’ll have to be able to step up and take over for Burke when the time comes.

Burks will have the incredibly difficult job of being the No. 1 scorer off the bench. The tough part comes from the amount of pressure being put on the sixth man to perform on a nightly basis.

Guard play is key. Utah’s backcourt will need to consistently take care of the ball and play at a high level if the Jazz want to surprise fans and win a good chunk of games.

 

Frontcourt

Look around the NBA and try to find a team with a better group of young talent among its frontcourt than the Utah Jazz.

Are you still looking?

Players such as Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are among some of the most talented young players in the entire league.

Kanter and Favors could be incredibly dominant at the power forward and center positions if they can figure out how to play with one another at the same time. Stepping onto the court next to each other has always seemed to hold one or the other back from hitting his true potential. Still though, the talent is clear as air; it just needs to come to fruition on a more consistent basis.

Averaging over 16 points, five rebounds and five assists during the course of an 82-game season proves how good a player someone is. It’s also exactly what Hayward was able to do last year.

His next move will be to prove that he can be the guy worthy of his $63 million contract. That will require more of an initiative on the offensive end of the floor and being the go-to guy, along with stepping up and guarding the opposing team’s best player on a nightly basis.

He’s got the talent to be that kind of player; it’s time for him to make it happen, though.

Add in the long-ball threat of Rodney Hood along with a developing Rudy Gobert, and we continue to see how youth and potential are heavily in Utah’s favor.

 

Coach

Tyrone Corbin just wasn’t the right man to lead Utah over the past three-and-a-half seasons. It never looked as if he wasn’t trying, but there was a certain passion that was missing.

The 2014-15 season will give us a look at Quin Snyder and if he can do a better job.

Corbin and Snyder have a different level of skill when it comes to player development. Corbin only played people when he felt they were ready. There were times when people like Burks never saw the floor strictly because Corbin didn’t feel like he had the game to compete.

Snyder does and will likely do his job a little differently.

The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Aaron Falk interviewed Snyder and heard a bit about how he plans on developing players. Here’s what Utah’s new coach had to say:

As an old college coach, that was something that you were really focused on. It’s become kind of something that everybody talks about, everybody wants to do. I think a couple things that are key is your staff has to be really, really good. You have to be teachers. You have to enjoy seeing guys improve. We’re awfully young. You’re going to see a lot of guys grow. Hopefully some will grow pretty fast. It’s a challenge, but it can be really rewarding as well when you see people get better.

It’s important to hear Snyder say that one of his staff’s keys will be to develop talent. The only negative part about making sure a player’s potential gets hit is that it means there has to be room for growth.

And there’s more than enough growth to go around with the Jazz.

Snyder will certainly help move the team in the right direction, but it will have to take some time.

It won’t all happen during the upcoming season.

 

Northwest Division

It’s difficult to say that there’s truly an easy division in the Western Conference. Luckily, Utah is a member of the least difficult.

Apart from the Jazz, the Northwest Division consists of the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers.

It’s definitely difficult but not nearly as bad as the Southwest Division, where four of the five teams made the playoffs last season.

Utah won’t be waiting around to start the season off with a challenge. It opens the year with playing Portland in the first two games of the season. The crazy part is that the Jazz will end up seeing the Trail Blazers four more times before the 82 games come to an end.

Combine those games with 14 other ones against the rest of the division, and there is some opportunity for wins.

Minnesota is in complete rebuilding mode, and Denver is one of those teams who will beat you by 10 points, only to lose by 25 the next night. Stealing a couple games from Portland and Oklahoma City will be difficult, but there’s definitely an opportunity for three or four wins between the two squads.

 

Western Conference

It’s no surprise that the teams in the Western Conference are much more talented than those in the East. Franchises in the Eastern Conference won a total of 556 games during the 2013-14 season.

The West won 674.

If 118 more victories isn’t proof enough, then it’s unclear as to what is. Utah only plays 30 of its 82 games against teams in the opposite conference, leaving it with 52 very difficult battles.

More athleticism among all positions should set the Jazz up for a stronger season. Unfortunately, their conference schedule does nothing toward leading to more wins.

 

Final Regular-Season Record/Standing

The Jazz can go in one of two directions. They can overachieve and surprise some people by winning games they weren’t expected to, or they can end up as exactly who they’re expected to be.

There are sure to be a number of cuts and changes to the final roster, but Utah currently has the youngest roster in the NBA. An average age of 23.4 is ridiculously young and potentially the leading factor toward another difficult year.

Could the Jazz compete for the playoffs this season? It’s highly unlikely. They would need a turnaround similar to the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns to make that happen.

Still though, seeing them consistently battle should become a regular sight.

Utah basketball has been boring for the past couple years. There’s no reason not to be blunt about it. A more athletic roster and first-year NBA coach should bring some life back into the franchise and be significantly more fun to watch.

 

Best-Case Record: 37-45

Expected Record: 25-57

Best-Case Western Conference Standing: No. 10

Expected Western Conference Standing: No. 14

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The Utah Jazz’s Silent Star

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
All the talk in and around this young core of the Utah Jazz seems to focus around but a few players; Trey Burke, Derrick Favors, new Jazz man Dante Exum, and the majority of this off-seasons talk has been on the newly resigned Gordon Hayward.
The truth is, the silent guy, who no one is talking about is the key to the this rebuild happening in Utah. Alec Burks is the silent star in Utah. He is never spoken about in national media, and he is rarely spoken of in Utah media.
However, last season he put up solid numbers coming off the bench, averaging 14 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. If you go by his per 36 minutes, those numbers increase to 17.9 points 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Those are very solid numbers for a third year shooting guard. By comparison Klay Thompson (whom everyone seems to be in love with) put up 18.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per 36 minutes. So, in comparison Klay Thompson scores less than 1 point per 36 minutes more than Alec yet heâ

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University of Utah Basketball Legend Billy ‘The Hill’ McGill Dies at 74

Billy McGill, one of the most dominant basketball stars in the history of college hoops, died last month at the age of 74.

First reported by the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, McGill’s death came as something of a surprise to those close to him. It was also a shock to the sports community of Salt Lake City, home of the University of Utah, where Billy ruled the courts during his best years.

McGill spent a week in Salt Lake just this past February, appearing before both Utah Utes college and Utah Jazz NBA games in support of his recently released book, Billy “the Hill” and the Jump Hook: The Autobiography of a Forgotten Basketball Legend. (Full disclosure: I assisted Mr. McGill with the text of his memoir.)

I had the honor of writing a eulogy of sorts for Mr. McGill, which his publisher posted.

With the NBA season already seeming to loom large on the horizon, despite the midsummer heat, it seems like an appropriate time to consider the life and death of this once great player.

The Short Corner, a basketball podcast featuring Justin Halpern (“Sh*t My Dad Says”) and Paul Shirley (Can I Keep My Jersey?), devoted half of a recent episode to discussion of McGill and the NBA of his era, the late ’60s, in memoriam.

McGill’s 38.8 ppg average in his senior year at Utah remains the all-time record for NCAA centers.

A contact at the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame noted that McGill remained under consideration for induction.

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Utah Jazz Rumors: Buying or Selling Gossip Ahead of 2014 NBA Draft

The Utah Jazz hold the No. 5 and No. 23 overall picks in the 2014 NBA draft, and rumors have become a typhoon—they are no longer merely swirling.

Whether it be which player the Jazz are likely to choose or Utah shipping selections elsewhere, validity of the news is constantly questioned.

And so, the multimillion-dollar question: Are we buying or selling the latest gossip?

Draft day is approaching quickly, and Bleacher Report is here to make sense of the recent buzz surrounding Utah’s first-round selections.

 

Note: All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Why Are Utah Jazz Targeting Cleveland Cavaliers’ No. 1 Draft Pick?

The Utah Jazz have apparently found their man, which is probably why they’re making a serious play for the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City originally reported that Utah had made a major offer to the Cavs for the No. 1 pick back on June 20:

Since then, Jody Gennessy of the Deseret News has been reporting additional details based on what Checketts has relayed on his radio show:

And for any skeptics out there who mistrust small-market reporting, be advised; we’ve got the big-time stamp of approval as well:

So it seems pretty certain that the Jazz are gunning for Cleveland’s pick. The question is: Why?

The most obvious answer is that Utah has zeroed in on the one player it can’t live without. For a while, it appeared that player was Jabari Parker. But ESPN’s Chad Ford raised a possibility that went against conventional wisdom in an ESPN.com chat back on June 18:

I know what Jazz fans want. They want Jabari. But I actually think Embiid and Wiggins may be higher on their boards. If they move up, don’t assume it’s for Parker. And please Jazz fans, don’t burn down Dennis Lindsay’s home if he passed on him. You’ll love Wiggins too.

Obviously, Joel Embiid‘s foot injury removes him from that equation. But Wiggins remains.

And if you think about it, Wiggins would have been a logical choice at No. 1 a year ago, when many thought he would have warranted the top selection if not for the NBA’s age limit that required him to wait a year before entering the draft.

Though some of the luster has dimmed, Wiggins remains a very promising prospect.

B/R’s Jonathan Wasserman called him a “high-upside wing with all-star potential,” and it’s not hard to miss Wiggins’ overall athletic appeal. At 6’8″, he features a 7’0″ wingspan, per Draft Express, and a 44-inch max vertical, per Scout.com.

He’s a fluid scorer who should develop into a terrific defender as he matures, and there’s little question he’ll be ready to compete athletically right away.

For all that, though, Wasserman has Wiggins pegged as the No. 3 pick, while Ford has him slotted at No. 2.

If we assume the Jazz are targeting Wiggins, though, it doesn’t really matter whether he’s projected to go first, second or third. As far as Utah’s concerned, the point is that he certainly won’t be available at No. 5, which means trading up is a necessity.

And while it’s tough to figure out why the Jazz are fixated on that top selection, one could speculate that other teams in the top four simply aren’t interested in making a deal. So the Jazz are talking with the one team, Cleveland, that might be willing to listen.

There are any number of additional explanations for Utah’s desire to climb the draft ladder, some of which actually have little to do with Wiggins. For example, it’s possible the Jazz have taken a long look at that four-year, $48 million extension they gave Derrick Favors and are having second thoughts.

Maybe the Jazz have their eye on another big man who they prefer to Favors. Maybe they think Enes Kanter (if his knee is healthy) is the interior presence they want to use in a four-out, one-in set.

Given the reported additions to the trade negotiations, it’s tough to get past the notion that Utah simply wants Wiggins.

Why else would it be tossing in such valuable assets?

Admittedly, there’s a lot of appeal to the idea of Wiggins, Trey Burke and Kanter making up a very young, very cheap core. And with so little money committed to future salaries, the Jazz could pretty comfortably match whatever offer sheet Gordon Hayward might sign this summer.

Ultimately, stars are hard to come by in the NBA, and it’s possible Wiggins is one of those rare players. It’s a long shot, sure, but at least the young man himself has confidence in what he’ll become.

I always put myself No. 1 above anybody else. That’s just me. I got a lot of confidence in myself,” Wiggins said on ESPN’s First Take (via Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com).

Maybe it’s not a widely held belief, and maybe there’s more going on here than what appears on the surface. But it’s hard to fault the Jazz for making a bold play like this, especially when it’s so out of character:

Hey, when you see something you like, go for it.

Let it never be said Utah is a dull place.

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Utah Jazz’s 2014 NBA Draft Big Board

The 2014 NBA draft is just days away, and for Utah Jazz fans, it brings with it hope after a dismal 2013-14 campaign.

It was a season that was expected to be rough after Utah’s front office allowed veterans Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to walk in free agency last summer.

That step back may help the team take a few steps forward with yet another lottery pick, this time in the star-studded class of 2014.

The Jazz missed out on the opportunity to snag one of the really big names such as Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker (most likely) when they were announced to have the No. 5 pick at the lottery.

But the depth of this draft affords Utah the opportunity to pick up a great player with that fifth selection and maybe even at No. 23 with its second first-round pick.

Options abound at both of those spots.

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Marcus Smart refusing to work out for Utah Jazz

TweetOklahoma State guard Marcus Smart is one of best — if not the top — point guard prospect in the 2014 NBA draft and will most likely be selected within the first seven picks in the draft. Apparently, there’s one team with a high pick Smart isn’t interested in playing for; the Utah Jazz. Per CBS Sports: Utah Jazz Vice President of Player Personnel Walt Perrin spoke with the Salt Lake Tribune this week at a workout for Julius Randle and revealed that they’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to bring in Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart for a workout. Perrin states that the team has done substantial work on Smart and are interested in him at No. 5. When asked whether they plan to have him in for a workout, Perrin says “I’ve talked to his agent four times trying to get Marcus in,” indicating they tried and were unsuccessful. The Jazz already have one young point guard in Trey Burke on their roster, but the 6’3″, 227-lb Smart could use his size and strength to possibly play alongside Burke in

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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz 3/26/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Memphis Grizzlies looked to continue their recent run of success on Wednesday against the Utah Jazz. The Grizzlies had won two straight and four of five, and they faced a Jazz squad that had dropped seven of its last eight. 

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Orlando Magic vs. Utah Jazz 3/22/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz looked to build a bit of momentum in Saturday night’s clash. The Magic had lost seven straight, including eight of the last nine, and faced a Jazz squad that had dropped six straight and 11 of 12.

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Utah Jazz Guard Trey Burke Nails Game-Winning Baseline 3 to Beat Orlando Magic

The 2013-14 season has been one to forget for the Utah Jazz, who have already been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. But even the lowliest club will have its moment of glory, as rookie point guard trey Burke demonstrated with this astonishing last-second three-pointer to beat the Orlando Magic.

Credit on the play should go not only to Burke, but also to small forward Gordon Hayward, who masterfully drew in the defense and kicked out the ball to his teammate for the winning shot.

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